A wall in Cyber Hall that reads "building a more secure tomorrow"

UA Launches New Center for AI Research and Development

The University of Alabama is setting a new standard for AI research and education with the opening of the Alabama Center for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, housed within the College of Engineering. 

The new research center, recently approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, is supported in part through a $2 million donation in honor of former chair of the department of computer science, Dr. Marvin A. Griffin. It will unify new and existing work across campus, greatly expanding research, education and outreach activities related to the development and application of artificial intelligence.

“The launch of the ALA-AI Center marks a transformative moment in AI research and education here at The University of Alabama and for our state, showcasing UA’s unwavering dedication to excellence, innovation, world-class education and in being at the forefront of the research and development of cutting-edge technologies,” said Dr. Clifford Henderson, dean of the College of Engineering.

Fundamental Focus

Serving as a pivotal hub for the study of AI’s core mechanisms and its myriad applications, ALA-AI will focus on five fundamental themes:

  • Advancing the science of AI and its machine-learning methodologies
  • Promoting human-centered applications of AI that benefit society
  • Ensuring the ethical development, dissemination and utilization of AI technologies
  • Cultivating a workforce and society that is proficient in AI through lifelong learning initiatives 
  • Fostering a vibrant AI research and education community, nurturing unique collaborations between academia and industry

Aligning AI

ALA-AI will unify new and existing research efforts as part of a campus-wide collaboration between the College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, Culverhouse College of Business, Capstone College of Nursing, College of Communication and Information Sciences, College of Education and School of Social Work. 

A strategic alignment with the recently approved High Performance Computing and Data Center and the Alabama Cyber Institute uniquely positions ALA-AI for close collaboration with industry partners and bolsters UA as a leader in computational and AI research. 

Dr. Jiaqi Gong, associate professor of computer science, will serve as the inaugural director of the center. Dr. Sergei Gleyzer, associate professor of physics and astronomy, and Dr. Hee Yun Lee, distinguished professor and endowed academic chair in the School of Social Work, have been appointed as co-directors of ALA-AI.

“The establishment of ALA-AI signifies a monumental leap forward in the realm of AI research and education at UA,” Gong said. “Through interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative initiatives, we aim to address the most pressing challenges and opportunities in AI, shaping a brighter future for Alabama and beyond through its responsible development and application.”